Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The knowingness of nothing

I didn't get it. I really didn't. I mean it hurt. It really hurt. And I'm no baby, my friend. I can take pain. Ever have your grandmother set you up on a blind date? No? I have. That's blunt trauma, and I'm a survivor.
But this pain, this was different. It was perpetual, enigmatic, and enjoyed traveling about my body, hitching a ride here, taking a drive there, seeing the sights, snapping pictures. A total tourist pain, completely not at home inside me.
After a few weeks I started getting irritable. After a few months I started getting depressed.
I had thrown my back out. Yep, I did. Here's the warning that should be placed on all clandestine boxes, "Picking up and carrying on one's hip could cause disk misplacement and months of whining that even your mother won't want to hear. Check with your physician before lifting any and all boxes."
My chiropractor and I got very close. Although I'll admit, not meaning to be unfaithful, I had a love affair with the roller bed.
You'd think I could have a good sense of humor about such things. And I did. For a solid 20 minutes, I laughed this pain off. Then I started getting testy. And more so, scared.
What I didn't understand, what confounded me time and time again, was the fact God was simply not answering my prayer. No divine communicado. What good could possible come of this? Of all the things in my life swirling down the toilet, was this REALLY what I needed right now?
I could answer that. No. No, it was not. What I needed was to miraculously and spontaneously lose 12 percent more body fat, get a rebate check from my credit card for $15,000, open my front door to find a Cary Grant look-a-like lost and lonely.
This made no sense. None. And I was sick of it.
I HAD been in some of the best shape of my adult life. I had been pushing myself, working out hard, lifting weights, building my strength, pushing myself beyond what I thought possible. It felt good. Too good. So I kept at it. And at it. And at it. My usually three day/one-hour workout turned into six day/two-hour workout. And I wanted more. It made me feel powerful, in control, like I was the one piloting this life. The constant soreness was just weakness leaving my body (who ever made that stupid statement anyway?). And my constant exhaustion was simply lack of sleep. Nothing more. So I kept right on pushing.
Then, on a day I can only remember as rainy, it all stopped. Just like that. No more sweat. No more weights. No more control. I was injured and it wasn't healing.
So time went on. I slept with a pillow between my knees. I went to my chiropractor. I did my stretches. I waited and watched and held my breath hoping for improvement. Then I passed out because you should never hold your breath that long. Eventually, ever so tediously slow, the pain began to subside, I walked normally, I moved freely, and I still slept with a pillow between my knees.
I gave up understanding. God wasn't going to explain this. It was going down in my history book as one of those great question marks I'm suppose to remember post death to ask, though I know I won't. It had been completely pointless. Just bad luck. Just bad karma. Just life.
Months later, sitting in my doctor's office (it hasn't been a steller year), we reviewed the results of some tests I'd taken. I had some problems but nothing that couldn't be reversed with more sleep, supplements, and a whole-foods diet. Thankfully. However, BIG however, I was on the edge, just tittering on the brink of plunging further beyond the line of easy reversal. I was at that point someone named No Return.
And then my doctor said something rather profound, "Good thing your back went out."
Huh? Good thing? It's not like it just "went out" for dinner, "went out" for a smoke, "went out" with Cindy my hairstylist, it w-e-n-t o-u-t, as in, not in. "What do you mean?" I asked.
"Well, had you continued pushing yourself like you were, you'd be in a much worse situation than you are now. It's really a blessing you were forced to quit. Otherwise, you'd be pretty sick right now."
Oh, I thought. 'Oh,' I formed with my mouth. "Oh," I finally said out loud.
Who'd uh thunk it. The pain had a purpose afterall.
I sat across from my mother recently while she received some bad news. After months and months of praying, after disappointment upon disappointment, here she was to be disappointed again. I could see it on her face. Why? She was asking. And I couldn't help but think of my pain.
"Mom, we don't always know the reason for these trials. That doesn't mean there isn't one. We have to trust God knows what He's doing. We just have to trust...God."
I'm still doing my stretches, still seeing my chiropractor. The pain is minimal, though not gone. And there's just enough of a reminder to keep me from picking up any boxes. I don't understand everything in my life. In fact, I have a hard time understanding my cell bill. The mysteries of the world are certainly not frightened of me.
But perhaps that's the adventure. That's the thrill. The not knowing. That's part of what makes life so confounding, intriguing, irrational, yet fascinating. We don't know. We can't. But we've been invited to know Someone who does.

Monday, May 14, 2007

What does it all bloody mean?

Can the seemingly meaningless dumb luck of life have greater meaning?

Could losing $20 propel you into financial freedom?
Could stubbing your toe cause true love?
Could getting cut off in traffic actually save your hide?
Could that missing sock eventually explain the meaning of life?

In the far reaches of unexplained phenomenon, could one innocuous event, or even not so tame event, eventually lead you to a destiny? Or at least a really groovy time?

Let's think about this a bit. More later.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Love is blind

I stood in the back lurking. Deep in the shadows I watched, like a stalker, like a thief in the night, like a serpent hunting. The darkness thickened near the corners so I backed up, edging closer and closer to obscurity. I shifted my weight from foot to foot, not quickly, but slow, a timeless rhythm tossing the wind back and forth between movements. I stayed inside my personal space, shrinking to nothing. Unseen. Unnoticed. Unknown.
The only light, the only sound, came from a stage in the distance. The eyes of cameras watching every movement, much like me. It was just a show, a simple national platform, and a friend of mine sat there among the cables and wires, the backdrops and backlights, being in the cornea of the spotlight.
He's a special man. A success by any standard. A national columnist. An award-winning author. An international speaker. A dreamer who knows the smell of battle to keep the dream alive.
At age 17 he started going blind. At age 29 the process was complete.
The bubbly interviewer smiled through her raspy voice, an extravagant personality beneath big hair and a small frame. She spoke on his books, his movie, his television network.
Still, I remained in the dark. He didn't even know I was there, a spy among strangers. I thought I came to support him. I learned later it was all for me.
She began wrapping up the interview and asked one final question.
"Jim, does being blind limit you?"
He answered, in the sure-footed way he always speaks, comfortable whether at Tiamo's talking about my life or sitting in a ghastly lit chair in front of a live feed talking about his.
"Yes, of course," he said. "It limits what I can do."
And here's the pearl I haven't been able to get out of my head all day.
"But it never limits who I am," he said.
I stopped shifting my weight, stopped my nervous twitch of shifting my weight, stopped feeling the cushions in my shoes squish with my body weight. I stopped lurking in the dark and just stood there plainly. I stopped seeing the chaos behind the scenes and started seeing the chaos behind my eyes. I just stopped.
There in the cool darkness I realized I was the one blind. I cannot see where I'm going, only sometimes where I've been. My eyes haven't adjusted to the darkness. My other senses haven't heightened.
I'm blind. My life makes little sense, the directions even less. I turn north and find out I've gone east. I've make a right to realize I should have made two lefts. And I step out to realize I should have used the other foot.
So many times, I live life blindly still believing I've got perfect sight. But I don't. I'm blind. Completely and totally in the dark. Decisions are limited. I don't have the ability to push my future forward or back, to curve my direction to the left or right. It does not, however, change who I am in Christ.
I'm still His daughter, His beloved, the twinkle in His eye. I'm constantly in His sight, the object of His affection. I'm still His and everything He made me to be. And I don't need my eyes to see it.

what do you WANT?

If a friend asks me that question, I usually answer, "understanding."
If a boss asks me that question, I usually answer, "money."
If a man asks me that question, I usually answer, "dinner."
If God asks me that question, I usually answer in stunned silence. What do we want? What do we REALLY, truly, from the blood and guts of it, want?

Don't answer that. Let it marinate awhile. Your response might surprise you.